Since You're Not Planting...

Prairie Gleanings

Now might be a good time to conduct some routine medical visits. Farmers are at high risk for contracting skin cancer.

Published on: April 25, 2013

Yes, it will be mid-May before most of you are planting corn. Deep breaths.

So, what to do in the meantime? Well, you could catch up on routine medical maintenance.

Why is it farmers are so good at maintaining equipment, but only go to the doctor if an appendage has literally become detached from the body?

I pondered this with a farm wife yesterday. After multiple doctor visits, her fears were confirmed – her husband had skin cancer. Luckily, her persistence meant they were able to remove it fairly early.

Farmers are doubly at risk for skin cancer. The first reason is obvious. You’re outside nearly every day in the sun.

Though you’ve heard them multiple times, the prevention measures are worth repeating.

We wont be seeing these images anytime soon, in Illinois anway. But, hey, at least weve got plenty of moisture.
We won't be seeing these images anytime soon, in Illinois anway. But, hey, at least we've got plenty of moisture.
  • Try to avoid being outside when the sun’s rays are the harshest.
  • Cover up with long sleeves, pants and a broad-brimmed hat (protect the back of that neck).
  • Use a waterproof 30 SPF or better sunscreen for extended periods outdoors.
  • Re-apply sunscreen every two hours.
  • Conduct a self-examination every month.
  • Get a professional exam once a year. 

The second reason farmers are at risk is psychological. Part of the hard-work philosophy is pushing through pain and fatigue to get the job done. There’s no time to be concerned with a pesky little sore that won’t heal. Time’s a wasting.

If that pesky little sore is skin cancer, your time may be wasting more quickly than you anticipated. And, yes, that’s exactly how this farmer knew there was a problem. He had a skin lesion that just wouldn’t go away.

For more on skin cancer, check out the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website. They have excellent info on the types and pictures to help with a self-exam.

So, while you’re waiting for the earth to dry up, get into your physician and make sure your farm’s most important piece of equipment is hitting on all cylinders.